About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Add One, Out of Balance

Tonight we did a favor for another family and had one of Elie's school friends over for a sleepover.  It wasn't a stay up all night sort of thing, it was just a play and go to bed right on time sort of thing.  It went well, except for one small part:  Elie's siblings. 

The kids all play exceptionally well together.  This does not mean they don't fight.  It also does not mean that they spend every waking hour interacting with each other.  It means that when they are home, they play around, with, against and sometimes apart from each other.  And when an individual child is thrown into the mix, it can throw off the balance.

This friend is Elie's age.  She is one of two children and her sibling is a brother who is a couple years older.  She's not really used to sharing.  And it's starting to be the case that Elie wants to have her own friends.  To do her own thing with.  And that's okay. 

But Talia and Isaac and Leila do.not. want to be left out.  Today I just couldn't get them to do anything by themselves.  We did end up having some nice chatting time while I was making dinner and they were sitting on the counter, but every so often Talia would ask in a very plaintive voice, "Why can't we be with Elie and S?"  Oh it was hard. 

I wanted to tell Talia that Elie needed some time with her friend.  I wanted to tell Elie and her friend to include everyone.  I wanted everyone to just be not sad.  I reminded Talia that there are times she has had just her playdates with her friends (granted it was at their houses, but still).  I tried to get her to think about how she would feel if the situation was reversed. 

In NOVA, most of our close friends were families.  Our kids knew that we all came as a package and so did the other family.  It worked out well.  Now the kids are getting older and finding friends that don't come in a family package.  Good for them, hard on me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One Giant Step for Munchkin-kind

In big-developmental-steps news, Leila can pedal on a trike!  I don't really know when this happened, but at some point the last three months she figured it out.  She and the Bigs have been tooling around the lower patio anytime they could go outside and for ages she was just pushing herself with her feet.  But last month, I was down there hanging clothes to dry and she was pedaling her trike!!!  It is such fun to see her pedal up and back and turning circles.  I love those developmental advances, they are such fun. 

Also in big-developmental-steps news, Elie and Isaac went to the corner store and bought something for me ALL BY THEMSELVES!!!!  Oh.my.goodness.  Our street is very short.  It is in very close proximity to the main drag, where there is a small corner store.  Occasionally, we have found it very useful to have a small corner store just a few steps from our door.  But it has always been Adam who has run up to purchase whatever we've run out of.  As of late, though, it had been occuring to me that Elie was, perhaps, old enough to take some money and go up to the corner store by herself.  I had waffled about the whole thing, unsure whether it was time or not.  Then, as we were coming home one day, I saw a girl walking home with money in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.  I knew she wasn't any older than Elie and was probably right about Isaac's age.  I realized that it was time to start giving them those life experiences. 

The opportunity arose on Wednesday afternoon a couple weeks ago.  Elie and Isaac had finished their piano lessons and I realized I didn't have any soy sauce for the fried rice I was making for dinner.  I got some money and asked Elie and Isaac if they thought they could go up to the corner store, see if they had soy sauce, and if so, purchase it.  They were both very excited to go.  And while I thought they were back in for a final piano lesson, they ran to the store, bought the sauce and were home before I even realized they were gone. 

They were so proud.  And so was I.  I asked them how it felt and they told me what happened.  Elie:  "I carried the money."  Isaac:  "And I asked if they had any soy sauce and where it was."  Elie:  "I got it off the shelf!"  Isaac:  "And I carried it home."  Elie:  "We took turns, that way it would be fair."  Isaac:  "And we didn't bicker or fight!" 

Later Isaac admitted to me that he was a little nervous someone might stop them and ask them "if they had a family."  And he told me, "I'd just tell them that we had a family and we were just going to the corner store for our Mommy." 

Whoa.  It's a big step to go to the corner store on your own.  I know they ran there and ran back, but it was good for them and good for me.  They are growing up.  It's pretty darn cool. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Moving On

Moving over to the UK was a very stressful situation.  When we arrived, we struggled to find a house we liked in a location we liked.  It was very messy.  The base was less than supportive and time was running out when we found this fabulous and amazing house.  It had loads of personality, functionality and general coolness.  Of course, as in all things in life, there were trade offs.  It was far away from the school and I was spending 20 mins each way to pick up the kids.  When we wanted to go to after-school activities the distance made that sort of thing difficult.  Having play dates was challenging because we were so far away people didn't want to come pick up their kids and we didn't want to have to drive them home. 

In February we got the news that someone had made an offer on the house and we were likely going to have to move.  Angst followed.  There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I did want to move, I didn't.  I did, I didn't.  I didn't, I did.  I did, I did, I didn't.  What if the house didn't sell, would we renew our lease?  I just did. not. know. 

I started seriously looking for a new house and found zero choices that would work.  We realized that we really did need to be IN the community near the school, so I narrowed down the area we were going to look.  I saw large houses with non-existent gardens, homes with tiny rooms and even smaller kitchens.  It wasn't a hopeful experience. 

All the while I was waffling back and forth over whether or not we should commit to moving if we didn't have to.  One day I had had enough.  I needed to make a decision and move forward.  Dadam and I talked; we would move no matter what.  Shew.  Decision made, now I had to find a house. 

At pickup one day, I was chatting with another mom about our dilemma.  She said she knew a family who was having a house built for them and couldn't sell their current house.  Maybe they'd be interested in renting?  She talked to them, came back to me and I went and looked at it. 

It was the first house I'd seen that would fit us, and all our assorted crapola, comfortably.  Decent garden, quiet location, close to school, enough square footage, check all around.  Blah, blah, blah discussion and stuff.  We made a deal and shook on it.  We are moving in the beginning of July. 

There has been a fair amount of sadness/nervousness/displeasure on the part of the kids.  This house is fabulous and the new house is not the same.  There are many positives to the new house: we can ride our bikes to school, ride our bikes in the driveway, have friends over for playdates, and be more social in general,there is a sewing room/office and a nice flat garden to play sports.  And, of course, there are negatives:  the kitchen is smaller, the garden is not as dynamic, the rooms are smaller.

 I think part of the problem for the kids is that when we went to see it, it still had the other family's stuff.  I find it hard to vizualize how the space will look empty and I'm sure it is difficult for them.  I think the other part is that moving twice in one year is a difficult process.  It sure isn't fun for Dadam and I. 

Mostly, I just want to be done.  I want to get settled in the new house and start experiencing all the positives that it has to offer.  The beginning of July seems like ages from now.  There are already boxes scattered around and chaos is taking over.  I am sad to be leaving this fabulous house, but I know the new house holds new promise. 

And it turns out that this house *did* sell, so we were going to have to move anway.  Yes, we've signed a two year lease this time. 

One Liners

A few weekends ago we went on a caching hike around a few local reserviors.  It was a beautiful day, warm and summery.  When we go caching we try and observe the "cache in, trash out" motto that geocaching has.  We always bring "carrier bags" (or plastic bags as we call them in the states) to pick up trash we see on the trail.  Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of trash on the trail and so Dadam was carrying a pretty full bag of trash.  Leila said to him, "Daddy, what are you carrying?"  And Dadam said, "I'm carrying a shopping bag with trash in it."  Puzzled, Leila said, "Why did we buy trash?" 

There is a crematorium that we drive by on the way to our house.  I have been repeatedly surprised that no one has asked any questions about it, but the other day it finally happened.  "What's a crematorium, Mommy?"  Elie said from the back seat.  I told them what it was.  Isaac piped up and said, "So, it's like an incinerator for bodies?"  Uhhhh, yeah.  Just like that.

At dinner the other night Talia announced that she was going to marry Asher.  "Asher and I are going to marry so that we can have babies."  (Except she pronounces it "Ashah" because she is quickly loosing her American accent.)  I choked on my food. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dirty Laundry

I do a.lot.of.laundry.  Not surprising really.  There are six people in this house, four of whom are 8 years old and under.  Kids are dirty.  I get that too.  What I have recently noticed, though, is that there are six different attitudes about being dirty, dirty clothes and the laundry hamper.  I suppose that's not surprising either, but what does surprise me is how entrenched it all seems to be already.  I'm fighting a loosing battle for change here, people. 

Adam and I try to be reasonable about dirt.  Adam is more particular about being dirty than I am; ie he hates having dirty hands and won't wear clothes with obvious stains.  I tend to be very laid back.  Dirt happens.  My jeans operate as wearable, washable, reuseable hand wipes.  I'm always wearing something that isn't clean.  Meh.  We also try to be reasonable about the level of dirty that our house has.  I don't like a dirty kitchen, but I'm not above being completely lazy and leaving the washing up until tomorrow.  We vaccuum every couple of weeks and sweep when we are grossed out by the amount of food on the floor.  I would LOVE for everyone to put away their things where they belong at the end of the day, but it seems to be a loosing battle.  So I'm trying to let that go. 

And, as in all things, the children have picked up an amalgam of Adam's and my attitudes, seasoned those with their own personal views and produced courses of action that make the laundry-lady INSANE (for reasons I'm sure you will understand at the end of this post). 

Elie doesn't like to be dirty at all.  At the end of the day she likes to take off whatever she is wearing and, regardless of how long she's worn the clothes and what activity she's done, she will put it all in the dirty laundry.  I am sure that she believes the simple act of putting clothing on her body makes it necessary to wash it before she can wear it again.  I often have to go through her clothes with her and make her put away the clothes that do not show signs of filth.  It is a painful process, fraught with claims of invisible specks of dropped food. 

Isaac is not bothered by dirt, in fact, I think he enjoys being dirty.  Every evening, regardless of how long he has worn the clothes and what activity he's done, his clothes will be dirty.  He gets food on everything, regularly uses his shirt as a napkin, does power slides in the grass and attempts to wear his socks round the clock for days on end.  He is fairly reliable about getting his clothes in the laundry, except for the above mentioned socks, which do end up in the laundry after I explain to him that wearing socks for days on end isn't really that good for ones' feet. 

Talia is also not bothered by dirt.  She also has a tendency to drop food and manage to get it to land of every piece of clothing she is wearing when she eats.  She isn't bothered by getting dirty outside and loves to play in the mud.  Fine, it contributes to the dirty laundry overall, but Talia's problem is that she is so un-bothered by dirt, that she takes off her dirty clothes and puts them back into her drawer.  I have found food-encrusted shirts, pants with dirty underwear still in them, crunchy socks and jeans that could have walked themselves to the laundry, all stuffed back in to her drawers. 

Leila takes after Elie.  She has an enormous dislike of dirt and being dirty.  Not to be outdone by her older sibling, she takes the whole situation a step further.  Any time her clothes become the slightest bit wet or dirty, by any means, it becomes abhorent and must be removed, placed directly in front of the washing machine and a new outfit must be put on.  This means if she spills water on herself while drinking, she wants to change.  If she trips and the knees of her pants get dirty, she wants to change.  If she gets her sleeves wet while washing her hands, she NEEDS to change. 

This is all probably why there is a constant basket of clean laundry sitting in our room and a constant pile of dirty laundry waiting to be washed sitting in front of the washing machine.  Laundry anyone?